From the Desk of Lynn Woolf: October 8, 2013
Most news items about lawn mowers seem to involve local police reports about them getting stolen from garages. One that posted last week was a real doozy — and involved a local dealership. To summarize: An owner brings in a lawn mower for repair. The dealership has a policy of selling equipment if it is not picked up within 30 days after the repair. The owner returns after six months to pick up the mower. However, the dealer, after repeatedly calling the customer, had sold his mower. The owner goes crazy and tries to steal a mower… and it goes downhill from there.
I won’t judge the dealer or the owner. Dealerships need service policies in place to protect the dealership and who knows why the customer waited so long to pick up his machine? The story did make me think about customer loyalty, though.
I’ve talked with a lot of dealers in the last month and have heard numerous business strategies. Some were major, such as how and why our 2013 Dealership of the Year closed down one location and built a new store for rural lifestylers. (Watch your mailbox for the fall issue and the cover story about this year’s winner.) Others seemed simple, but required forethought, such as adding a trailer behind a parts van to more efficiently transport smaller equipment. And others showed the lengths one dealer went through to get a part that was out of stock. (He had the manufacturer remove one from a new machine in inventory.)
I believe these dealers are successful because they don’t worry about customers being loyal to them. Instead, they focus on being loyal to their customers. You can call it “Give to Get” or even “Do Unto Others,” but it’s a strategy that succeeds because it’s not a strategy.
Back to the dealership and the angry customer story. What policies do you have that keep you from being loyal to your customers and are they standing in the way of you earning more business? If you don’t know, just ask. Be sincere and don’t just ask those customers who always buy from you. Ask those customers who sometimes buy equipment from someone else. Understand what you’re doing right so you can keep doing it. And understand what they think you’re doing wrong, so you can decide if the policy is really worth it.